Former Massachusetts Gov. Bill Weld, running as a Republican challenger to incumbent President Donald Trump, suggested Monday that the president had committed treason — and mentioned the death penalty as the “only penalty” for that crime.
“He’s now acknowledged that in a single phone call right after he suspended $250 million of military aid to Ukraine, he called up the president of Ukraine and pressed him eight times to investigate Joe Biden, who the president thinks is going to be running against him,” Weld said. “Talk about pressuring a foreign country to interfere with and control a U.S. election.”
Trump has defended his phone call, telling reporters Monday that “if we’re supporting a country, we want to make sure that country is honest,” according to Politico.
The president framed the controversy as just a desperate attempt by Democrats to remove him from office after former Special Counsel Robert Mueller found no evidence of collusion between Trump’s presidential campaign and Russia in his lengthy report.
“Here we go again,” Trump said. “They failed with Russia, they failed with recession, they failed with everything. And now they’re bringing this up.”
On Sunday, the president acknowledged that he did indeed discuss Biden during his call.
“The conversation I had was largely congratulatory. It was largely corruption — all of the corruption taking place,” he said.
“It was largely the fact that we don’t want our people, like Vice President Biden and his son, creating to the corruption already in the Ukraine.”
Weld depicted Trump’s conversation as something worse than a mere presidential indiscretion.
“That’s not just undermining democratic institutions, that is treason. It’s treason, pure and simple,” the former governor said.
“And the penalty for treason under the U.S. Code is death. That’s the only penalty.”
As Breakfast Media’s Andrew Feinberg tweeted, Trump’s actions are highly unlikely to constitute treason.
Yeah, @GovBillWeld needs to read Article III Section 3 of the constitution again. He’s just as wrong about this as @realDonaldTrump is when he accuses the press or Democrats of treason. https://t.co/dXpgFkmeyK pic.twitter.com/xIAuOq9gyY
— Andrew Feinberg (@AndrewFeinberg) September 23, 2019
“Yeah, @GovBillWeld needs to read Article III Section 3 of the constitution again,” Feinberg said.
The reporter included an image of the text of Article III of the Constitution, which states that “treason against the United States, shall consist only in levying war against them, or in adhering to their enemies, giving them aid and comfort.”
Weld faces enormous odds in his bid for the presidency. As USA Today reported, multiple state Republican Parties have canceled their 2020 primaries. Additionally, Trump’s approval rating within the party remains strong, as an August poll revealed that 83 percent of Republican voters approved of the president’s job performance, according to The Hill.